Stalking: How to spot it, what to do

By Kallie Cox, Staff Reporter

Nearly 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point in their lifetime, according to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center.

Stalking affects a large percentage of the population, and is all too common. But what is stalking?

Emery Johnson-Miles, lead medical and legal advocate at the Carbondale Women’s Center, said stalking can be identified as any action that controls you, tracks you or frightens you.

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According to Illinois statutes, stalking is a class 3 felony and is punishable by 1-3 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

Johnson-Miles said when someone realizes they are being stalked, they should document everything.

“Put a note in your phone with the date, because whenever you do a protective order or a police report, you are going to have to prove that these incidents happened,” Johnson-Miles said.

Kay Doan, SIU’s Title IX Coordinator, said there are multiple ways a student can report stalking. She said students can report to the police, the Title IX office, or both.

“They can come in here in person, they can call us on the phone and we would schedule an appointment to meet with them, and they can also go online which is really the most common way that folks report,” Doan said.

To make an online report with the Title IX office, visit www.safe.siu.edu.

Doan said when a student reports online, the report goes directly to the Title IX office and the office will then reach out to the student and ask them how they wish to proceed. They will also send the student a safe brochure with information covering resources available at SIU.

Doan said what happens after a student files a report is up to them.

“They could just come in here and say they don’t want an investigation,” Doan said. “They just want it on file, they just want us to be aware of it, and maybe they want to take advantage of some of the resources that would be available to them.”

Doan said if a student does wish to proceed with an investigation, the office would write a formal complaint for the student’s approval, and then they would call the accused party and ask them to come in for an interview.

If they choose not to come in, the office will use the information provided by the victim.

Many individuals are afraid to come forward about issues such as stalking or harassment because they fear retaliation. Doan said SIU has a policy prohibiting any form of retaliation against a student who files a report.

According to Doan, when an investigation is complete, the student is sent to Student Rights and Responsibilities.

If a student feels uncomfortable filing an official report about stalking, or they want to confidentially find out if what they are experiencing is stalking, they can speak to Rebecca Gonnering, the campus confidential advisor.

In addition to reporting services and confidential advising, SIU can help students modify their class schedule, solve living or dining accommodations, issue a no contact order for an individual not affiliated with the campus, or potentially set the student up with an escort from DPS.

Doan said Gonnering is the person that works with students who may need a modification in their schedules or accomodations. Rebecca Gonnering can be reached at +1 (618) 453-4429.

The Department of Public Safety becomes involved when stalking reports are made to the police, interim restrictions or no contact orders are implemented or other law enforcement actions are requested or needed, said Benjamin Newman, SIU’s director of public safety.

Students who do not wish to report to DPS or SIU can discuss their options with a counselor or advocate through the women’s center.

The women’s center can shelter you, help you receive time off of work without suffering repercussions while you handle a stalking situation, offer legal advice and advocacy services, provide free counseling, and help you get out of your lease with no penalties if your stalker knows where you live.

Legal advocates at the center can also help you apply for a stalking no contact order.

In order to receive a stalking no contact order (SNCO) those applying for the order must meet four requirements. According to the center’s pamphlet on this, these requirements are:

#1: The offender is following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, communicating, or interfering with the victim.

#2: The offender has committed the above actions on two or more occasions  

#3: The victim did not give consent for the above actions or told the offender to stop.

#4: The offender’s actions would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or suffer emotional distress.

Initially, SNCOs will be granted for a short period of time while a court hearing happens. This court hearing will determine whether or not the order is extended.

Stalking can be hard to recognize and it is easy to downplay what is happening to you. In order to help with this, Johnson-Miles said when recording incidents, individuals should ask themselves how they would feel if what was happening to them happened to one of their friends.

If you are unsure if what you are experiencing is stalking, contact one of the counselors at the Women’s Center. Counselors at the center are confidential and not obligated to report to SIU or the police.If you would like more information on how to apply for an SNCO, Emery Johnson-Miles can be reached at +1 (618) 549-4807, ext. 236.

Staff reporter Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected]

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